Hurricane Dorian unlikely to impact Sumter County

Published 3:03 pm Saturday, August 31, 2019

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From Staff Reports


AMERICUS — As of Friday afternoon, Hurricane Dorian was bearing on a course for the Bahamas and the United States.

According to information from AccuWeather, Dorian became a major hurricane on Friday, as government officials continued to prepare for the potentially devastating storm that is forecast to unleash a three-pronged assault of extreme winds, devastating storm surge and severe flooding.

Dorian was expected to make a turn toward the west and continue to strengthen throughout the Labor Day weekend along a path that could take it across the northern Bahamas on Sunday and to the Florida coast, perhaps between West Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral, early next week. More than 20 million Americans face the possibility of feeling impacts from Dorian, including about 3.7 million senior citizens, based on the current forecast, according to AccuWeather.

A news release from AccuWeather said that as of 2 p.m. Friday, the National Hurricane Center said the storm’s maximum sustained winds were at 115 mph, which is a Category 3 storm. The storm was located about 480 miles to the east of the northwestern Bahamas. As forecasters predicted, the storm has begun to slow its forward motion, with a current speed of 10 mph, down from 13 mph on Thursday night.

Nigel Poole, director of the Sumter County Emergency Management Agency, told the Times-Recorder that while his office is tracking the hurricane, it looks like Sumter County will suffer no ill effects. He said a half-inch to an inch of rain is expected and “some wind,” but otherwise, no threatening weather for this part of the state.

Dorian poses a serious threat to lives and property from the northern Bahamas, Florida, and perhaps areas farther north in the southern United States in the coming days, according to AccuWeather.

“Steering mechanisms will weaken while Dorian passes over very warm water with diminishing wind shear this weekend,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

As a result, a decrease in the forward speed of Dorian but also significant strengthening are expected with the hurricane likely to reach Category 4 strength on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. A Category 4 hurricane has sustained winds ranging from 130-156 mph. Some fluctuation in strength is likely once Dorian reaches the Category 4 level.

AccuWeather’s release says it is possible that Dorian could pulse to Category 5 strength, which is the highest level of intensity for hurricanes. This is a concern as Dorian travels over deep, warm water of the Gulf Stream where cool, up welled water caused by hurricane wave action is rapidly replaced by more warm water.

The exact track, strength and forward speed of the storm will determine which areas are hit the hardest, according to AccuWeather. However, damage and power outages are expected to extend well inland of the coast. This includes areas around Orlando and Tampa.

An overall increase in the size of the storm is expected to continue through landfall in the southeastern U.S. This means that tropical storm and hurricane conditions are likely to extend farther out from the center over time.